What do you do in Longmont? You drink beer.
What do you do in Longmont? You drink great lagers.
Great lagers can be found just off Main Street in Longmont at Wibby Brewing. Their building has a unique story, in a past life it was the truck depot for the old Butterball factory but you wouldn’t know it now. When you walk in today you are greeted by a furry mascot, Buster, along with everyone else. The taproom is full of unique touches, the wall of paintings by local artists is worth a quick look during your visit.
It’s hard to stand out in the craft beer market today. It’s even harder to stand out in the craft beer market of Colorado but Wibby Brewing has done it. Wibby is the only brewery that focuses solely on producing lagers. To call it niche brewing would be a gross understatement, instead Ted and Ryan the founders have taken what people think they know about lager beers and changed the game.
Anytime you walk in you can try one of a dozen different beers on tap. While they are all lagers, anyone can find the right beer to enjoy on the patio or over a game of shuffleboard. The beers range from the light and immensely sessionable Lightshine Helles to the dark and malty Moondor Dunkel (one of their more popular seasonals).
Don’t get me wrong, the beers are delicious but there is something else about Wibby Brewing that made my visit special, and that’s the feeling of community and camaraderie. It starts with Ted Risk and Ryan Wibby the co-founders; long time friends that met at Ithaca College and took a dream agreed on after a few too many beers, many years ago and made it a reality. Ryan studied Chemistry, Ted Economics and Sports Management both set on very different paths but found common ground creating a brewery. You can feel it when you ask them about their beer, their future and what Wibby Brewing means.
Their community is also reflected in their roles. Ted leads the business operations and if you haven’t guessed it already Ryan is the head brewer. Don’t let Ted fool you though, while he’s only brewed one batch of beer (it didn’t end well) he can tell you all about it. Ryan honed his brewing skills by working his way up through the process (he spent time brewing at Deschutes in Oregon as well) but fell in love and perfected his lagers during the time he spent in Germany with some of the best lager brewers in the world.
The two men spent time on both coasts of the United States, so you might wonder how the two of them ended up opening a brewery in Longmont? Ryan hails from Boulder and Colorado just seem to fit. I strongly recommend going on one the brewery tours to see just how much of his Boulder roots show in the brewing process.
The tours are held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 3pm but if you miss those times and ask when it’s slower you might get lucky. On the surface it’s like every other tour. They show you the kettle, the heat exchanger, the fermenter etc. but it all changes when you hit the cool room. Inside, you will see they have transferred the beer into 30-barrel horizontal lagering tanks. This alone makes it unique, I’ve been to many breweries and never seen that but it’s the atmosphere of the room that grabs you. It’s the background music, on that day it was trippy almost trance-like, but on others it might be just waves noise. Ryan likes what the music gives to the beer.
Don’t leave the room too quickly because it’s cold or you might miss the mini pictures of the forever 27-club with the likes of Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain. Next, you find out what happens to each beer when it’s placed inside, Ryan puts his hand on it and “thinks one thought of peace, one thought of love and one thought of happiness.” Ryan is a self-described hippy.
Side note: Ask about the story of Barb the van. I am not going to share it because I can’t do it emotional justice in words. It’s worth it and you will just feel how everything in the brewery connects, it will connect to you.
Make the trip, enjoy the beer, and become a part of the experience.
I will be going back for the Lightshine Radler (soon to be canned in April) it’s a mix – 20% raspberry lemonade (Longmont Dairy Farm) and 80% Lightshine Helles or as I am going to call it 100% my summer drink.
If You Can’t Make It To The Brewery:
Joining me for Collaboration Fest? Check out Wibby’s Collaboration with 4 Noses, it’s called Two Way Street and is going to be an Imperial Rye Pilsner.
Boulder, Fort Collins, Longmont, Broomfield, Longmont, Louisville and Estes Park are slinging Wibby’s beers, but don’t worry Denver they are coming for you.
Monday- Thursday: 11:30am to 9:30pm
Friday – Saturday: 11am to Midnight
Sunday: 11am to 9:30pm